We asked Anita Ryley (creative director, Seesaw), Laura Cornhill (creative director, Studio Binocular), Andrew Hoyne (principal, Hoyne) and Vince Frost (creative director, CEO, Frost Design) for design career advice and tips, as well as their perspective on the current state of design education on Australia.
Here’s Anita Ryley’s interview, and next up is Andrew Hoyne…
Studied: Graphic design, RMIT
Did first year in 1988 but never graduated.
Worked in a nightclub for three years instead
What was the greatest piece of advice that you were given during your design education?
I was told that I wouldn’t always be so enthusiastic and that I’d grow old and become tired of it all soon enough. I ignored that old bastard and stayed passionate.
Should design graduates concentrate on one area and be really good at it or be an all-rounder?
By third year, I’d strongly suggest you focus on one core area that you love, and be the best you can at it.
What is your opinion of the current state of design education and, if anything, what can be improved?
What is missing in design education is design management. This should be a separate course. A situation should exist where students have the option to change focus after the first or second year (perhaps they love design, but aren’t as good as they first thought) and decide to focus on either design strategy or design management. This is an area of focus where the industry is lacking in graduates. It has the most opportunity by far.
What qualities impress you most about current graduates, and which skill-sets are lacking?
I like people who think about the end-user or target audience, and create unique ways to engage with them. I’m most impressed by perseverance and optimism. I like self-belief and modesty.
How important are a designer’s educational qualifications? Does it matter if they hold a degree or a masters? Does it matter what institution they went through, or what kind of education they received?
I’d be a hypocrite if I cared. It’s what is in their folio and brain that counts. Plus the way they project and present themselves as people. We want smart and enjoyable people to work with.
When hiring, do you prefer to see a physical portfolio or does an online presentation of work suffice these days?
I like to see things at the size they were intended to be. For certain solutions such as packaging, I’d much prefer a physical example. However, the most important thing is the idea, regardless of how it’s presented.
What is the biggest challenge about being a designer that you did not think/know about when you were a student?
That one of the easiest things I do is design. It’s the politics, meetings, relationships and money that are hard work. The other thing that surprises me, in hindsight, is how much writing you do as a designer.
If you could start your design education again, would you do anything differently?
I would have got drunk less and cared more. I would have stayed the full term and graduated. To kick off my career, I would have done everything I could to get an internship at my favourite studios at the time.
What are some changing considerations for the designer of tomorrow?
Aesthetics are no longer enough. Strategy and ideas are the price of entry. Ideas can be executed in any medium, existing or invented (but if you invent it, patent or trademark it).
What would be the biggest piece of advice you would give to a student who is currently studying design today?
Work as hard as you can, but enjoy the journey. Travel as often as possible and ensure your first job or first few years in your career are at the highest level. Those years have the chance to affect the rest of your life.
Thumbnail: Seth Taylor, 2012.